18 Apr 2019

The Elf's Prisoner - Commentary 25

Miscues and misbehaviour, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 25.

Once again, I'm in my cycle of event-reaction-reflection with my characters.  However, Leo isn't in the best of shape to reflect.  Never try to out drink an elf.  They aren't lightweights in this setting, apparently.  He and Wren will be legends for a few weeks at the Inn of the Foxes.

Nyssa's two messages are letters of introduction and requests for an audience.  Nyssa's original mission was to talk to representatives from the Realm Under the Mountain to see why they were threatening Varin.  The mission has expanded, but Nyssa is keeping to the original plan.  She can tell Count Varin truthfully that she tried to contact the reps.  The Niceans are the latest being pulled into Sessarine's plot.  Poor communication kills; Nyssa is trying to open up means to talk with everyone involved.

Galan's Shields are a mercenary company acting as the local town guard.  The dwarves don't care about what happens in Silver Trailings as long as it doesn't affect trade.  The merchants in Silver Trailings like it when their customers can walk down the street without being mugged.  The coins that aren't taken by force can be spent at a number of shops.  Dwarven-craft items, from utensils to weapons, are sold at a premium, but for far less than what they could sell for elsewhere.

Perry is pear cider as Kazi mentions, sort of.  It's not a platypus or a former Canadian game show host.  Perry proper is from the perry pear.  Still, it's a nice addition to the setting; Wildwood has pear trees, not apple trees, and the elves craft cider from them.  The little details make or break a setting.  I got the idea from a King Arthur Pendragon campaign after my character purchased a lot of pear trees for his holding, and perry was one of the items that could be made from the harvest.  My knight didn't hold his religious belief too high, but what can one expect from a family where my knight was the white sheep of the family.  More bastards than legit children there.

Friday, lurking, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 26.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, Godzilla: Planet of Monsters.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, Teen Titans.

12 Apr 2019

The Elf's Prisoner - Chapter 25

Chapter 25

Bridging the cultural divide.
Inn of the Foxes, Silver Trailings, outside the Realm Below the Mountain
Nyssa pressed her signet into the still-warm wax sealing the second of her message scrolls.  She shook out her hand, trying to work out the stiffness and cramps she earned while writing,.  Nonetheless, both missives were ready.

The door crashed open.  Nyssa spun in her seat, her hand falling to the dagger in her belt.  Leomund lurched into the room, one step at a time.  The knight relaxed.  "Really, Leomund, decorum."

The squire fell across one of the beds.  "Why do dwarves hate us?" he groaned.

"Too much to drink."  Nyssa walked over the her squire's side.  "What happened?"

"I learned to not outdrink an elf.  Birdie kept up with me."

"Haven't I always said that you'll meet your match some day?"  Nyssa helped Leomund roll into bed properly.  "And that you'll pay the price for trying?"

"Never thought my match would be an elf girl."

Nyssa pulled Leomund's boots off.  "It's always the one person you would never suspect."  She slapped the squire's leg.  "Roll on your side."

With effort, Leomund did as he was told.  "What are we doing now, ma'am?"

11 Apr 2019

The Elf's Prisoner - Commentary 24

Miscues and misbehaviour, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 24.

This was Kazimier's chapter.  Part of the reason for focusing on him was to get used to writing from a male perspective.  If you take a look over at the list of works, most of the stories feature a lead woman, particularly the solo leads in Subject 13, Tales of the Soul Blade, and The Devil You Know.  This was a chance to get inside Kazi's head for a bit and to make sure Jyslyn and Nyssa didn't take over the narrative too much.

The first part of the chapter let me show how divine spells worked.  Instead of having to study individual spells like a wizard would, priests pray.  Whether the priest gets the desired spell depends on the deity.  What the spell looks like, its special effect, also depends on the deity.  Kazi is a priest of the Lightbringer; the spells he uses must involved light in some way, whether a soft glow while healing or a wisp of light as a messenger.  Since I don't have many deities fleshed out yet for the story, I'll use examples from the Forgotten Realms.  Auril, the Frostmaiden, if she were in my setting, would use snow and cold as special effects for spells, with healing involving a touch so cold it burns and messages sent through snowfall even in summer.  Bhaal, the Lord of Murder, may not even grant healing spells and messages would be sent via blood.  I wanted to show a difference between the arcane and the divine.

That just leaves the blatant fan service.  A clash of cultures.  A very awkward moment.  Part of the plan for the story is to get Kazi and Jyslyn together by the end.  What happened in the room, though, is more of a setback.  They're still learning about each other.  Jyslyn has some baggage that she needs to deal with.  Kazi isn't looking for a quick roll in the hay.  One of the goals in the back of my head while writing this was to show them growing together.  At the same time, I don't want it to be too fast.  They need something more than saving each other's life to build on.

Wren was a great way to leave some unsaid tension between Kazi and Jyslyn.  Drunk Wren is even better when it comes to awkwardness.  Some of her mannerisms are based on me, though not directly.  The veering away from the straight line?  That.  After a more horrible than normal day working at an ISP that will remain nameless for now, when word came down from on high that techs would have to upsell crap, I poured myself a rye and Coke - it was the only mixer I had in the apartment - with 2.5 to 3 fingers of alcohol in a lowball glass.  I probably should've been eating something, too, but I may have been going out later to do just that.  I only had the one drink, and it was a rare thing for me to do.

Friday, missives and misery, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 25.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, Titans.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, Godzilla: Planet of Monsters.

5 Apr 2019

The Elf's Prisoner - Chapter 24

Chapter 24

A rainy night and a warm inn
Inn of the Foxes, Silver Trailings, outside the Realm Below the Mountain
Kazimier laid out his chain shirt on the spare bed in his room.  The change out of his wet clothes and into dry ones helped his already improving mood.  He stretched, working out stiff muscles now that the weight of the armour was gone.  The bed was inviting; a nap would recharge him, but the elf had far too much to do before he could rest.

Instead, Kazimier knelt in the middle of the floor.  He took his sunbeam amulet from around his neck, holding it out so it caught the light of the candles spread through the room.  Kazimier preferred to use the sun's natural light, but with the rain still coming down, he had to settle for the candles.  He closed his eyes and sang a prayer to the Lightbringer.  A wisp appeared, glowing soft yellow and warming Kazimier's face.  "Go to Matriarch Matylla Starpetal in Wildwood.  Tell her that Kazimier is safe, as are the others, and we've arrived outside the dwarven realm.  Go now, with the blessing of the Lightbringer."

Kazimier opened his eyes.  The wisp flashed twice, then left, floating through through the wall and out into the rainy gloom.  Through the window, he saw the ball of light leave Silver Trailings.  Kazimier got to his feet.  With one task done, he set himself for the next.  He returned the amulet around his neck, then left his room.

The young girl had helpfully pointed out which rooms his companions were in and where Jyslyn should be.  Kazimier walked over to the dark elf's room and knocked on the door.  Hearing her call back, "Enter," he opened the door and stepped inside.

"Jyslyn, I think we need to talk."  He closed the door.  "I'm concerned about Wren and your--"  Kazimier's voice trailed off when he saw Jyslyn standing nude in the room.  He felt his cheeks growing hot.  "Um."

4 Apr 2019

The Elf's Prisoner - Commentary 23

Welcome to Silver Trailings, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 23.

It's not a dark and stormy night.  It is, however, wet and rainy because mountains cause air to cool down, condensing water vapour.  I was basing the setting on the southern mainland of British Columbia, where it rains a lot.  Since there hadn't been any bad weather yet, I tossed it in.  Jyslyn, coming from an underground city, got to experience her first rain.  She hated it.  The thunder and lightning just add to the misery.

The Realm Under the Mountain and Silver Trailings got the most thought in developing the setting on the fly.  The Realm itself is inside the mountain, as the name suggests.  The dwarves would be happy to ignore the outside world, except they need to trade.  The Realm produces raw and refined ores and finished goods.  It's big enough that it needs to import food from the outside.  Silver Trailings started as a small trade town outside the gates to the Realm, then it grew.  The city acts as a buffer between the outside world and the Realm, a way to allow trade while still maintaining a separation.

I even managed to work out a few details of the Realm, mostly that there's a few levels inside.  The entry level, the Entry Cavern because I couldn't think of a better term for it, is a second layer of defense.  If anyone gets past Silver Trailings, they then have to get inside the mountain and then figure out where to go from there, all while dealing with crack dwarven troops.  Back in Chapter 3, the Count of Varin wanted to send troops to lay seige to the Realm.  I wanted to build on the idea that the Count's invasion plan was pure folly.

What I didn't have in mind while writing the chapter was an idea of how Silver Trailings was laid out.  There's a main gate, with inns near it to take advantage of tired travellers.  Beyond that, I was still building the city as I wrote.  There is some good news, though.  Older cities, such as London, England, weren't planned out at the beginning.  Roads and buildings were put in haphazardly until the idea of urban planning got formalized.  There are districts, though; it's easier to find a shop if most shops are in or near the marketplace.  There are rich neighbourhoods and there are poor neighbourhoods.  The Bent Coin, seen in the interregnum two weeks ago is in a shadier part of Silver Trailings.

I may not have had an idea where The Elf's Prisoner was going when I started.  The past few chapters, I knew I needed my characters to get to the dwarven kingdom.  I did spend some time trying to figure out what is going to happen, but first, I needed the kingdom to be defined.  The next few chapters will use Silver Trailings; if I had to build it, I wanted to make good use.  This is a section that will take a few in-story days to gather information.  It helps to have a city that is more than just a fuzzy idea.

Friday, miscommunications, in The Elf's Prisoner Chapter 24.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, hiatus week.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, Titans.

2 Apr 2019

Test Run - The Witcher - The Witcher

It's been a couple of weeks, but I needed a small break.  I'm back with R. Talsorian's The Witcher RPG based on the video game based on the series of dark fantasy novels by Andrezej Sapkowski.  This time around, it's time to create a Witcher, since that's what the game is named after.  Again, I'm not familiar with the setting, only what I've read in the game.  But, the game looks thorough.

So, tally ho!

29 Mar 2019

The Elf's Prisoner - Chapter 23

Chapter 23

A knife found, a villain revealed.
Silver Trailings, outside the Realm Below the Mountain
The sight of the gate outside the Realm Below the Mountain through the steady rain lifted the spirits of the small group.  After three days of rain, all five were eager to have a roof over thir heads.  Jyslyn pulled her cloak tighter around her as she shivered.  "I do not like this rain."

"It'll stop," Nyssa said.

"You promised me that yesterday morning."

"Once we're past the gate, the first thing we do is find an inn," Kazimier said.  "No one likes being caught out in the rain, Jyslyn."

Wren shrugged.  "I like it."

Lightning lit the sky.  A sharp crack followed right after.  Jyslyn had her grey rod out before the thunder finished rolling.  "What was that?"